Hylo Open: Controversial calls captivate tournament
After saving six game points, Tien-Chen Chou fell to Anthony Ginting in the championship match due to an umpire’s miscall, and, in the aftermath, the BWF refused to grant Chou the justice he deserved.
Although the Hylo Open concluded two weeks ago, debates over the championship match between Tien-Chen Chou, ranked number four in the Badminton World Federation World Ranking, and Anthony Sinisuka Ginting, ranked number eight, have remained heated over the past six days, stemming from the umpire’s controversial decision at a match point.
Tien-Chen Chou, known by his international fans as “CTC,” is a highly celebrated badminton player from Chinese Taipei. Due to the fact that Taiwan is not an internationally recognized nation, athletes representing the sovereign state compete under the delegation of “Chinese Taipei” in order to avoid international disputes while still differentiating themselves from the delegation of “China.” Standing at 5 feet 11 inches, Chou’s height provides an advantage for receiving shots at the far edges of the court, making defense his undisputable strength. Prior to Hylo 2022, Chou had taken only six matches among his thirteen encounters with Ginting. The championship match in Germany was the chance for Chou to finally tie up the series between him and Ginting.
In their head-to-head competition, while tied at 22-22 in game 3, Ginting went for a smash intended to land on Chou’s front court. Lunging to save the drop, Chou was called out by the umpire Henrik Boas for striking the shuttle after it had landed. Chou requested to review the video replay, but the umpire refused, stating that video replay can only be used when there is a challenge to determine whether the shuttle landed out of bounds. Therefore, the foul is determined solely by the judgment of the umpire. The referee was unwilling to overrule the umpire’s call, nor did the service judge agree to attest to Chou’s claim, awarding the rally to Ginting. Seeing that his protest was futile, Chou begrudgingly continued playing, but it was clear that the devastation had overpowered his spirit. The last rally, played passively by Chou, was handily taken by Ginting, thus concluding the men’s single division of the Hylo Open.
In the post-game conference, Chou responded to the controversial call: “I know I cannot change the situation, but I hope there is [a] rule change to avoid situations like this in [the] future. There should be a better system to review situations such as rackets crossing the net while hitting the shuttle and incidents like this.”
After remaining silent to all protesting voices, the BWF released a statement the next day promising to investigate the case, but they refused to make any changes to the results of Hylo: “BWF trusts that all umpires endeavor to make the best call he or she can make in real time. However, even if a mistake occasionally occurs, a referee cannot overrule the decision of an umpire on a point of fact, and an umpire’s decision stands as final.” Standing with the umpire and referee who misjudged the situation, the BWF deprived Chou of the justice he deserved and the chance to win his second championship title of the season. This statement also refuses protection for players in the same situation going forward.
At present, the BWF has not released any clips of the video replay to the public, yet various sources have revealed clips of the controversial moment — all proving that the umpire misjudged the point. On his Instagram account, Chou humbly stated, “I suggest we should value the truth in each game from now on. The accuracy of judgment is what we pursue. Undoubtedly, it can enhance the honesty and integrity of badminton. To have an honest and fair match is a responsible attitude towards fans around the world and professionals joining in the game. There is no doubt that I will keep on respecting and trusting all the umpires as usual.”
The Hylo Open controversy was not as simple as an umpire’s miscall. It was a mistake continuously enlarged by the extent of the referee team and the BWF’s flawed response. Rather than supporting its athletes, BWF has chosen to protect its umpire and referee unconditionally. Chou is not the only victim in the event. Facing condemnation from Chou’s fans, Ginting’s victory is an inglorious one, despite his tireless effort to compete. If the BWF deprives the two of a fair judgment, Hylo Open 2022 will forever be infamously remembered.